It's not Google's fault they arbitrage your marketing results

It's time to make search a priority for the C-suite.

If you search for the phrase “the greatest invention of all time,” you’re reminded of achievements from electricity to the internal combustion engine to the discovery of penicillin. When I searched, I was surprised to find that the internet, not Google, was rated as number one. After all, how usable is the web without the ability to navigate?

And that’s precisely the challenge in marketing today. The more you increase your brand’s awareness, the more your prospects and customers search to find you, the greater the search costs and Google’s opportunity for arbitrage. If you’re like many marketers, this dynamic is becoming a significant obstacle to profits.

But it doesn’t need to be this way—it is possible to optimize your search strategy and increase ROI. Here are six thought starters to get you there.


1. Educate your C-suite on Google’s auction model

Search “effects of monopoly” and brush up on why caution is justified when it comes to Google. Natural monopolies can be good for the consumer, but while many good search choices exist, most people choose just one: Google. While some auctions deliver great bargains, it’s worth contemplating how many search deals you’re finding that increase profits.


2. Prioritize discussing keyword and search dynamics at the C-suite level

You have alerts for your technology systems, consumer reviews to gauge sentiment and financial ratios and metrics for your fiscal health. It’s time to add this same granularity and executive oversight to metrics like cost-per-click of branded search and changes in position and bid amount for top terms. If protestors were picketing in front of your business, the C-suite would be involved. Google has the same potential effect. How involved is your executive team?

3. Consider tactics within every channel that reduce dependence on Google

The easy way to reduce search costs is through hyperlinking to get consumers directly to websites. More advanced tactics include word mapping to ensure that high-cost terms are not the basis of your call-to-action and building brand recall in a manner that causes searches for high-ranking organic terms. Beyond that, channel mapping requires rigor, but it can be well worth the effort.

4. Never forget Google’s revenue goal won’t be met without increasing your costs

Financial results reported by Google don’t show an escalation of cost-per-click for advertisers. If you look deeper, that effect is largely the result of an increase in mobile traffic. It’s vital to review desktop costs and trends distinctly from mobile to uncover the true dynamics. Google often proposes significant spending increases to remain competitive. That’s the power of a monopolistic position.


5. Make brand building the most viable solution to Google arbitraging your marketing results

Brand building has become a surprisingly rare topic in digital circles. Because Google essentially controls access to your website for many consumers, focusing on performance without brand building has dire consequences. Ratcheting up your brand’s reputation is still the best way to build long-term base revenue and reduce your dependence on Google. On top of that, brand-boosting increases entity value, improves pricing power and moves other key long-term metrics.


6. Put more weight in your brand-focused upper funnel marketing mix

TV is an upper-funnel channel that is excellent at both building long-term brand awareness and driving short-term performance—keys to disrupting Google’s grip on marketing. But not all approaches to the channel are equal. At Marketing Architects, we deploy TV supported with a blend of statistical techniques within creative execution, media selection, conversion funneling and attribution modeling to put your search marketplace back into balance.


A final thought

Yes, Google certainly makes the list for greatest innovators of all time, and if the cost to society is that they arbitrage the marketing profits of a few companies a bit heavily, it’s worth it. But let’s put altruism aside for a minute and focus on letting the arbitrage happen to our competitors and lessen the effects on our own companies.


Originally published by Adweek.